Jorge Sampaoli discussed a range of issues in his press conference ahead of Sunday’s home game against Real Sporting, and provided an update from the treatment room.
Adil Rami and Gabriel Mercado were injured on international duty, and neither will be involved against Sporting at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán.
Sampaoli said: “There aren’t any more injury setbacks beyond the problems picked up by those on international duty,” he said. “We are looking forward to the game tomorrow and hopeful of playing well and getting a victory.”
The manager believes that the two-week international break has served as a period of recuperation. He said: “I am happy that the players have been able to consolidate over the past two weeks, to be able to rediscover their form, their identity and everything that has allowed us to reach the positionin the table that we are in, a historic third place for the club. It was a very important period for that.”
Óscar Arias was pictured speaking to the manager at training today, but Sampaoli insists that meeting was not symbolic of anything. “Óscar usually comes to training because he is always near Monchi. Now that Monchi won’t be here anymore, I don’t know what decision the club will make. Óscar´s attendance at training is nothing unusual because he is always close to us. Our meeting today was reflective of what happens everyday.”
Amid speculation this week surrounding the Argentina national team job, Sampoli said: “It [the speculation] is unfair for everyone beacuse there is a manager working there and I haven’t spoken with anyone. I’m only thinking about the game against Sporting tomorrow and it’s something for them to sort out in Argentina. I haven’t had any contact regarding this.”
Sampaoli was asked how his team will rediscover their form after their recent winless run. “Victories are important and we have to find the form to enjoy what we have achieved. What we’ve done this season has made us an important team, wit bravery and courage. We have to return to how we were with intensity, being a team without limits and enjoying attacking. The fundamental challenge is to play well, to find the light that allows us to be a team that goes after whoever we face. If we don’t find that, it will be difficult.”
The 57-year-old was asked about next season’s project, which will not include Monchi. “I’ve had a couple of meetings with the president,” he said, “we spoke generally and considered Monchi’s departure. We can now see what’s in front of us. He promised that we will have a meeting to see if I can help going forward or not. That will be the link that unites or separates us.
“We need to take another step beyond what we have done this year, having brought in a lot of young players. It was a gamble because it was difficult to establish what we were with such a young squad. There are lots of players on loan and others whose contracts need to be looked at. These are factors that the club is working on to see how to prepare for what is to come, it’s frenetic. If the first seaons gave us the chance to fight for things, the idea is that the second season is much better.”
Sampaoli concluded by insisting that the important thing, beyond Monchi’s farewell, is that the team return to winning ways. “The comotion in the city hasn’t stopped because of what Monchi has achieved during his time here. But there isn’t a particular motivating mesage that we have used because we know that tomorrow we have to win, the people are expecting it and we are playing against a team that has found a good way of playing and are dangerous if you don’t play well. Winning will motivate us.”